Keeping My Family Close

Tips Every First-Time Foster Parent Should Know

If you've been considering taking in a foster child, it can be an exciting prospect, yet intimidating at the same time. This is a whole new adventure for you, but it's also a lot of upheaval for any child in the foster care system. Whether you're still in the deciding stage or you're ready to take in your first child, there are a few key things you should be aware of. Here's a look at a few tips every new foster parent should know.

You Need Good Communication Skills

Foster parenting isn't for those people who are afraid to speak up or rock the boat. It requires someone who is willing to communicate effectively and persuasively. As a foster parent, you'll have to deal with a lot of people, including school officials, doctors, therapists, social workers, court personnel and sometimes the birth family.

Additionally, and most importantly, you'll need to be able to communicate with the child. Remember that kids in foster care often come from challenging situations and may have a history of abandonment, abuse or other problems. This means that they aren't likely to come into your house and open up to you right away. It's going to take time. You need to be able to communicate with your foster child gently while still ensuring that he or she understands the rules of the house.

Building a strong relationship with open communication is the best way to help ensure success in your foster placement. If you need help refining your communication skills, talk with your local foster agency about workshops and classes that might help.

You Need to Be Up for the Challenge

Because of the typically volatile environments that kids in the foster care system come from, it's important that you're prepared for any potential challenges that are ahead. Sometimes, kids lash out with difficult behaviors because they don't know how else to deal with the whirlwind of emotions that they're faced with after everything changes.

You need to be prepared to tackle those challenges head-on, showing the child that you are there for him or her while also reinforcing proper behaviors. It often also means learning a whole new way of parenting, because many states don't permit the use of any discipline that causes physical discomfort for foster kids. This is because kids in the foster system frequently come from living environments of abuse or neglect, so those types of punishment often trigger negative memories.

Welcoming foster children into your home can be a rewarding experience, but only if you are fully prepared for what's ahead. With these tips, you can be better prepared for the challenges that you may face so that you can help your foster child adapt safely and comfortably. For more information, contact companies like Braley & Thompson Inc.